When to fly?
With mild weather year-round and abundant sunshine from April through October, LA is always busy. But to avoid the highest prices on flights to Los Angeles, hotels and entertainment, plan your trip around major events, such as the Academy Awards, which are an eagerly anticipated event all over the world. Much has changed since the first awards ceremony in 1929, and now you can expect huge queues of fans who have waited for days to catch a glimpse of their favourite star on the red carpet. The event takes place in late February and is the place to be if you're an avid celebrity spotter.
4th of July is another major celebration so if you are visiting the city in July you can watch LA's famous fireworks display whilst listening to the LA Philharmonic, all hosted at The Hollywood Bowl. There are also a number of other patriotic festivals and celebrations all over Los Angeles including a parade at Huntington Beach.
There really isn’t an off season in LA, however you might find slightly lower airfares or hotel rates during the rainy season around January.
Although famous for Hollywood glamour, luxurious shopping, palm trees and sunny beaches, the City of Angels also has world-class art museums, great architecture and an incredible range of great food.
First-time travellers coming off their flights to Los Angeles will be overwhelmed by the sheer size of the city, making hiring a car a necessity. The easiest way to get to know LA is by exploring its famous neighbourhoods including Beverly Hills, Hollywood and Santa Monica. Home of the omnipresent sign, Hollywood and West Hollywood exude a certain charm with Frank Gehry-designed homes overlooking the city and convertible 1960s Comets parked in the driveways. Down the road is Beverly Hills where one of the most famous streets in the world, Rodeo Drive, resides. Here celebrities, tourists and the paparazzi stroll along the designer shops and cafes.
The relaxed beach towns of Los Angeles draw thousands of tourists each year to its chilly Pacific shores. Santa Monica’s Pier and the Third Street Promenade shops have become even more famous than the actual beach, while Venice Beach remains a firm favourite for people-watching. Although LA residents are fitness fanatics, they never walk around the city- they drive to the beach instead and bike along the coastline or hike the trails of Topanga State Park. Outdoor enthusiasts who book flights to Los Angeles should definitely pack some comfortable shoes and of course a camera – you never know when or where you’ll spot a celebrity.
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Los Angeles is so large and spread out that driving is the only way to get anywhere efficiently. Renting a car is your best option, and it’s one of the cheapest places in the country to do so. Don’t let the network of motorways scare you, as long as you have a map or good directions, you shouldn’t encounter any problems. The city is very driver-friendly with wide streets and lots of parking. Rush hour is very crowded, and its best to avoid the motorways from 7am to 10am and 3pm to 7pm. If you’re not a driver, you can take the bus, but you’ll need to transfer several times and travel long distances, making bus travel extremely time-consuming. Avoid taking a bus late at night. The MetroRail consists of five subway lines that run frequently and quickly but only cover a small area of the city. Taxis are not advised, since the long distances rack up costs quickly.
Getting to the city
Public transportation from Los Angeles airport (LAX) into the city centre offers a number of options. FlyAway coaches offer connections to central locations around the LA area, while an airport shuttle can carry travellers to the nearest Metro station. Bus stops are located nearby, although there isn't a direct bus from the airport.
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- For an archetypal LA beach experience, you’ve got to visit Manhattan Beach at the south end of Santa Monica Bay. The beach has a 928-ft pier, an aquarium, nine-hole golf course, surfing, volleyball and Sunday afternoon concerts. But, most importantly, it’s the place to swim, bronze, in-line skate, see and be seen.
- The biggest and best museum in LA is the Getty, which houses an impressive collection of Western art from the Middle Ages to the present day.
- The Formosa Café, next door to the The Lot (formerly Warner Hollywood Studios) is a must-visit if you want to dine with the stars. Once frequented by all the biggest names – Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, Humphrey Bogart, James Dean and Elvis – the diner is still visited by today’s stars such as Bono, Nicolas Cage, Jodie Foster and Michael Douglas. The café even has a part in the film L.A. Confidential. It has been open since 1925 and its walls are adorned with signed photographs of all those of note who have eaten there since.
- For something a little more unusual, take your pet along to Olvera Street in downtown LA in the springtime for the blessing of the animals. The event is held every Easter Saturday and has been running for several years. All kinds of animals are blessed, from dogs and cats to horses and snakes.
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